98 Civic Ignition Timing

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Hello,
I have posted a similar message last week regarding my 98 Civic LX ignition timing. I have originally replaced the distributor, but my ignition timing was retarded by aprox 14 degrees. Thanks to the usefull
comments on this group, I have checked my timing belt alignment. Because I wasn't sure if it was the original timing belt, I changed it as well as the water pump. Less $100 for the next 90000 peace of mind. When I put everything together, I've made sure that the camshaft and everything else was properly alligned. After everything was put together, I have checked my timing, while the service connector on the passager side was jumpered, and it seemed to be perfect. The engine pointer was alligned with the middle marker of the three when I first started. I was happy, and I left the car running for about 10 minutes because Haynes recomends to adjust the timing after the engine is warm and the cooling fan starts. I walked away for 10 minutes with the car running, but when I came back the timing was retarded again. It seemed very weird especially that I've jumpered the service connector. I thought that the timing belt jumped a tooth again. I checked the timing belt alignment again and it seemed fine. The camshaft markers were aligned with the cylinder head block and the crankshaft pulley was poiting to the TDC mark (the white one). The car runs fine, without any noticeable loss of power, but I'm a little worried about why my timing is off. Right now the timing is. V ||| | Maybe I'm not jumpering the right service connector, but it is the one that shows me emission control codes (flashing engine light). I don't have any engine light codes though. I'm puzzled why the timing retarded while I walked away from the car. I can't advance the distributor any further. Is there another special disconnect for the ignition timing?
Thank you for your advice.
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Little aside that could be a bit important:
Does your cooling fan really start after only ten minutes?
Even in summer-y weather, my 1991 Civic's radiator fan takes at least 35 minutes of idling before it comes on.
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote in
<snip>

It's a 2-pin connector with brown and black wires. It's under the dash on the passenger side.

Are you sure you're connecting the timing light to the #1 plug wire? If the light is inductive, make sure it's clipped to the plug wire as far as possible from any other wire.
If you've been jumping the correct wire, you may be probably picking up the signal from a different plug. (#3?)
If the above is true, your plug wires are electrically leaky and in need of replacement (with OEM!).
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Typo: I meant to say jumping the correct under-dash CONNECTOR.
The timing connector and the Service Check connector appear to be the same thing.

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After further investigating, I have found the following. Immediately as the car starts the timing is ok. Then, the timing retards after 10-20 seconds. The service connector is jumpered because the engine light stays on when the car starts. I've made sure not to be around any other wires when testing. Right now, I'm connecting to the #1 wire close to the spark plug end. The wires and spark plugs were replaced with new ones while I was debugging the bad distributor problem. I've bought the wires from Autozone, are they OEM? I will try to change with the old ones. By the way I found a good link for replacing the timing belt: http://www.hondatuningmagazine.com/tech/0406ht_timing / Tegger, please add it the website so others can use it. Thanks.
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote:

"because"??? what code are you getting?

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I meant the engine light stays on when you have the service connector jumpered. If there are errors it flashes. I don't have any codes and it only stays on. When I pull out the service connector jumper, it goes off. I think this is normal.
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote:

to sears & buy a $160 code reader for yourself. your onboard diagnostics will tell you if there are any other problems before you start messing about with the timing. and why did you change the distributor? what code was stored then?
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jim beam wrote:

Jim
There were never any engine codes. After a serious rain over a weekend the car stopped suddenly after 10 seconds after starting the following monday. I have replaced the spark plugs, wires, distributor cap, distributor rotor, ignition switch, map sensor, main relay and fuel filter without any success. I was getting sparks on each wire when I was cranking the car and the injectors were firing. Also I was hearing the fuel pump working when the ignition was on. I didn't no what to do so I took it to a shop for a diagnostic. They called me the next day saying that the Kv were not consistent and offered to replace the distributor. I refused, because it's cheaper to change it myself. When I came to pick up my car from them, I drove it home, but they've told me that they don't know how long it'll run. I've replaced the distributor and now it runs even after it rains. The only issue I have now is alligning the timing. Again, my engine light is not on unless I jumper the service connector. That should be normal because that's how you read the engine light flashes.
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote:

regarding codes, afaik, obdcII cars don't flash codes through the check engine light - you need a diagnostic scanner that connects into the obdcII plug in the driver's foot well. if you did read for codes with the scanner and got nothing, great. but if you were having random misfire problems, this is unlikely. check that next time before replacing stuff!
regarding the new distributor timing, i return to the timing belt. the ecu gets its firing signal from a sensor in the distributor, which is connected to the cam, which is connected to the crank. afaik, there is no way for the distributor to be just this little bit off without it being a timing belt issue. iirc, there's 40 teeth in the cam pulley. that's 9 degrees per tooth. one or two of those and you have your timing difference. especially as you replaced the timing belt at the same time as the problem appeared. sorry, but you have to take that cover off again and sets the belts right. make sure you /ONLY/ turn the crank anti-clockwise and set the belt tension correctly. per the honda manual, "rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise 3 teeth on the camshaft to create tension on the timing belt" before tightening the tension pulley. if it's not tight enough, it'll jump.
once that's resolved and the timing's fixed again, notch the distributor housing and cylinder head relative to each other. that way, if you ever take the distributor off again, you'll be able to replace it in the correct position. any variance subsequent to that will not be a distributor problem!
for future reference, the "inconsistent kV" was almost certainly a failing coil. that's a $70 fix that does not require distributor removal.
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wrote:

<snip>
Honda retained the flashing-light method at least up to the 2000 model year. It's even in the factory manual.

Given the OP's report of a "sudden" change in timing, and given that he's made sure he's not picking up the signal from an adjacent HT wire, I'd agree it's got to be a timing belt tension issue.
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I have looked at the timing belt again. It is lined up on both the camshaft and crankshaft. I noticed that it was a little loose between the camshaft and crankshaft. I took jim's advice and I have loosened the tensioner, spinned the crankshaft counterclockwise (about 3 teeth on the camshaft) and tightened the tensioner. It seemed tighter then. After I have put everything together, I'm having the same problem. Jim said to only turn the crankspaft counterclockwise, but that would throw off the alignment with the arrow on the engine block. If the belt is installed, when I turn the crankshaft the camshaft will also turn. I don't see how you'd only turn one without the other and still be on the marks specified (cylinder block alignment for the camshaft and arrow alignment for the crankshaft). It seems to me that the tensioner only tightens the section between the crankshaft and water pump. What I mean is that once it reaches a point, it can't tighten the region between the water pump and camshaft. It would need to jump a tooth to tighten it more. The region between water pump and camshaft seems a little loose, but not enough to get one tooth out and give it to the tensioner side. What are the specs for belt tensioning? Could I measure tension myself with common tools?
Thanks for all your support.
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote:

that's because the timing's not set right!!! when it is set correctly, the crank and cam are perfectly aligned with their timing marks when the belt is fully tensioned.

???
see first comment above!!!

no. as far as a running engine is concerned, the cam is free to turn and the crank is free to turn. in this situation, tension in any one part of the belt is idential with any other part of the belt.

no. the tensioner pulley is spring loaded. if you follow the tensioning procedure correctly, the spring loads the belt with exactly the correct tension.

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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote in

I think we may have a failure to convey a concept here. Let me try again:
(Sorry for the capitals here; I'm not shouting, just highlighting certain keywords).
To start off with, you MUST have the belt on with ALL the pulleys lining up with their respective zero marks. That is Step One, which out which NOTHING else will work.
At this point, it doesn't matter if the belt is tight or slack. Slack is better, actually.
Since the belt is cogged, the pulleys cannot slip out of time with each other unless the belt jumps a tooth, which is highly unlikely with it just sitting there.
Now, the WHOLE POINT of the "three tooth" rotation is to place ALL THE SLACK on the TENSIONER/WATER PUMP side of the crankshaft pulley. You want it TIGHT between the CAM and CRANK, and LOOSE at the TENSIONER. The "three tooth" rotation does this for you. And you need the slack to STAY on the tensioner side, which you do by NOT LETTING GO OF THE WRENCH once you turn three teeth.
Turning the crankshaft WILL move the cam too, but you ALREADY LINED THEM UP before you put the belt on. So long as you turn COUNTERclockwise only THREE TEETH, the risk of the belt jumping a tooth is non-existent, and the timing will REMAIN AS YOU SET IT.
HOLDING the crank at the "three-tooth" rotation point, NOW you loosen the tensioner. You need to hold the crank from springing back in order to make sure ALL the slack STAYS on the TENSIONER side. If you turn it three teeth then LET GO again, the slack will redistribute itself and you will still have a loose belt. Use your foot or knee to hold the wrench if you need your hands somewhere else.
If you've done this right, you will hear the tensioner give a little ZING noise as its spring pulls it up. Retighten tensioner, let go of crank wrench, check timing again.
THE END.
P.S.: There is another retensioning technique that involves pulling the tensioner back down again, but we won't get into that just now.
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When I installed the belt previously I let go of the wrench. I think that was what I did wrong. I will try it today again, but in the past I was using the crankshaft pulley(the one that spins the drive belts) using the 54mm hex to turn the crankshaft 3 teeth for tension. Once I turned it, I had to remove the pulley again to tighten the tensioner bolt. By doing this, it's very hard to not let go of the wrench when removing the pulley. Do you have a method of turning the crankshaft without the crankshaft pulley??? If I use the pulley screw without the pulley, it'll be difficult to tighten it enough to hold when I try to rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise. To summarize the steps I have to follow are: Align the marks on the camshaft and crankshaft Keep the tensioner screw tight Rotate the crankshaft 3 teeth counterclockwise Without letting go of the wrench loosen the tensioner screw Tighten the tensioner screw Let go of the ratchet Is this the suggested sequence of events?
Thanks
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote in
<snip>

Yes. And the tensioner bolt is ABOVE the crank pulley, set into the timing belt cover.
You'd hold the crank pulley still from below, and do the tensioner from above. I really have no idea why you're finding the crank interfering with the tensioner....unless...your PS is in the way...
This site addresses the PS issue: http://timingbelt.soben.com /
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote in

Why are you using that bulky thing?
Just use a normal 3/8" drive 19mm socket and extensions on the pulley bolt to turn it. Might buy you more wiggle room.
Don't worry, the bolt won't come loose if you've torqued it properly.
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote:

re-check both tightness of the belt and the timing marks for alignment. removing the spark plugs helps too.
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Hi Guys,
I have tried the method you've suggested and no success. I'm getting better and better at getting to the timing belt after about 5 attempts so far, but I still have the same issue. The timing belt is tight between the camshaft and crankshaft. It seems that when the engine first starts cold the timing is close, but not exact, to the TDC marker. Once the engine slows down to idle speed,after a few minutes, that's when the timing retards and it will just stay retarded. It coincides with the engine speed. I've read somewhere that timing should be adjusted at 750RPM +- 50. The only time I get that high, without touching the acceleration, is when the car first starts. The idle speed RPMs are below 500. I always look at timing only after the cooling fan comes on, and I did it a few times after more than 45 minutes of driving (when I came from work). I'm running out of options. The markings are always alligned, I've made sure of it. Would the drive belts tension have anything to do with it? I loose a bit of power when I drive with the AC on. When I do my timing monitoring all utilities are off per Hayes manual. Although the service jumper is connected, my timing still changes when I look at it when I start cold. Once the engine is hot it doesn't fluctuate, but it is retarded. Do you have any more ideas I could try? What are the consequences for driving like this?
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snipped-for-privacy@lycos.com wrote:

correct tension is vital, but it doesn't mean squat regarding timing. what matters is the tooth count between the timing marks. to confirm this is correct, do both timing marks align /exactly/ for the cam and the crank when the belt is tensioned?

haynes is notoriously CRAP. either get the online stuff from tegger's site or buy the proper workshop manual from helm.

end is your version of events. if you live close to san francisco, i could look at it for you, but way things are right now, it's impossible to get closer to the problem without physical inspection.
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